Getting started with WPF, XAML and Blend.

I have a good friend whose company is starting to consider WPF as the future platform upon which they are going to build their software. They have a nice grid of pros and cons and the long and short of it is that the scales are weighted toward WPF (if only slightly). The designers feel that if they can build a great UI for their software, they will get a leg up on the competition. Most everyone has come to realize that ultimately, they will have to make the switch. So pay me now or pay me later. It seems that the main thing holding them back is that they don’t have any experience developing software in WPF. And of course, the developers will own this burden. There is a big learning curve: First, you have to learn the technology, and then you have to learn to work together.

One of the questions they are struggling with is how are the new roles defined?

From a logical, management, efficiency, quality and happiness standpoint, the answer is simple. Designers should design, developers should develop and business people should elicit and define requirements and create documentation. But on the ground, things are never as simple as they appear from above. Who does what really just depends.

Over the last few years there was a lot of talk about the Integrator, a role between the designer and the developer who take care of the tasks which are too technical for the designers and too design oriented for the developers. I think very few organizations will, in fact, have an Integrator. Most struggle to get a dedicated designer to work on their software.

The chart shows how we have organized our workload in lieu of having an Integrator. The chart is just a guideline to get you started. Just because something is blue, doesn’t mean that a designer will never work on and the reverse is also true. Where the lines are drawn will very much depend on the individual members of your team, their interests and their experience. One thing is clear; flexibility and teamwork are critical to successfully integrating designers into your development process.

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